Yes, Alzheimer’s patients can still learn and remember! We just need to help them learn and remember by using the less affected portions of their brain.....
By Max Wallack
Alzheimer's Reading Room
“patients with Alzheimer’s disease are better able to remember new verbal information when it is provided in the context of music even when compared to healthy, older adults.”
In this study of healthy patients and Alzheimer’s patients, all participants received the written lyrics to 40 songs. 20 songs were presented accompanied by their lyrics being sung, and 20 were accompanied by their lyrics being read.
The results showed that the Alzheimer’s patients had better recognition of the lyrics when accompanied by the singing than when accompanied by the reading.
According to Brandon Ally, Ph.D., director of Neuropsychology Research at the BUSM Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience,
“Our results confirmed our hypothesis that patients with AD performed better on a task of recognition memory for the lyrics of songs when those lyrics were accompanied by a sung recording than when they were accompanied by a spoken recording. However, contrary to our hypothesis, healthy older adults showed no such benefit of music.”
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To the surprise of the researchers, they found that there is a real difference between AD patients and healthy patients in the way musical stimuli and nonmusical stimuli are remembered.
We, caregivers, have seen similar results previously, with the affects of creative activities such as art and puzzles.
Dr. Ally states,
“Music processing encompasses a complex neural network that recruits from all areas of the brain, that are affected at a slower rate in AD compared to the areas of the brain typically associated with memory.”
Yes, Alzheimer’s patients can still learn and remember! We just need to help them learn and remember by using the less affected portions of their brain.
Keep singing, Dotty!
Max Wallack is a student at Boston University Academy. His great grandmother, Gertrude Finkelstein, suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Max is the founder of PUZZLES TO REMEMBER , a 501(c.)3 charitable organization. PUZZLES TO REMEMBER is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and other institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.
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Original content Max Wallack, the Alzheimer's Reading Room